Killing is a wake-up call for everyone

25 June 2013

Phumla Williams“We are saddened by this tragic loss of a senior cop who dedicated his life to serve the vulnerable and the weak in society. We have all been robbed of a true patriot, a dedicated officer who has contributed in the reconstruction and development of our country.”

This is an extract from a moving tribute to Major-General Tarhani Maswanganyi, by the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa. Like all previous deaths of our men in blue, such incidents can only be seen as senseless and a setback to our programme to bring peace and stability within our communities.

South Africans stand united in their condemnation and outrage at the senseless killing of senior Gauteng policeman Major-General Maswanganyi. His death at the hands of callous murderers is a reminder to us all of the dangerous conditions that policemen and women face daily to make us safer.

Major-General Maswanganyi was the embodiment of all that is good about those who serve in the police. He was a career policeman who dedicated his life to fighting crime for 31 years.

We are confident that the police will find those who are responsible and that they will face the full might of the law.

Minister Mthethwa also spoke of the challenges that policemen and women face. “We have emphasised the point before that policing remains a very difficult and challenging duty,” he said.

“Almost on a daily basis our members face dangerous and vicious criminals, who will not hesitate to kill them or even injure and kill innocent law-abiding citizens. One police life lost is one too many. We are saying enough.”

Fighting crime is one of the five priorities of government, levels of crime have been steadily decreasing and more people feel safer. The National Crime Statistics show that murder has decreased by 17.2 per cent during the past three years, while attempted murder decreased by 21.8 per cent. In fact, most categories of serious crime are on the decrease, which is evidence that our crime fighting strategies are bearing fruit.

We are keenly aware that reducing crime alone is not enough; people’s perceptions of how crime affects them are equally important. Last year’s Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS) showed an increase of 8 per cent in the public appreciation of how government is performing in reducing crime levels compared to five years ago.

The survey showed that 38 per cent of participants believed that the level of violent crime had decreased in their area of residence, compared to 33 per cent who said that crime had increased. Twenty-nine per cent believed that crime had remained the same during the period 2009 to 2011.

The credit on progress we are making in fighting crime goes to the tireless dedication of police officers such as Major-General Maswanganyi. These are men and women who put their lives in danger on a daily basis to ensure our communities are made to feel safe in their respective areas.

As peace-loving South Africans, let us join Minister Mthethwa in condemning the killing of policemen.

The government strongly believe that safety is a fundamental human right. Citizens who live in fear or feel unsafe cannot fully realise their potential, resulting in stunted growth of the country.

The National Development Plan (NDP), our nation’s vision for 2030 places special emphasis on the importance of a safe South Africa. It recognised the importance of creating an environment that is conducive to citizens pursuing their personal goals, and also taking part in social and economic activity.

The police and other law enforcement agencies are hard at work making this vision a reality. Countrywide there are thousands of policemen and women, who serve with dedication and pride as Major General Maswanganyi did.

Often we tend to take their service for granted; as we relax and unwind during holidays or at special events dedicated officers are working behind the scenes to keep us safe. Their service often comes at great personal cost to themselves and their loved ones, but they do so regardless.

Let us join the fight; ordinary citizens are often the most powerful resource to help fight crime. Every citizen has a role to play, we are the eyes and ears of the police; we often see crimes in progress or know of criminals in our communities.

Unfortunately, we often turn a blind eye or choose to ignore what we have seen. Criminals can only thrive in communities where crimes go unreported.  We must not let the criminals dictate to our society.

The government calls on all communities to form and join Community Policing Forums. Get involved and together we will stem the tide of crime.

Every member of society can get directly involved by attending Community Police Forum meetings, which are a platform to discuss plans and strategies to deal with crime in specific areas. Citizens are encouraged to participate in neighbourhood initiatives to safeguard the area in which they live and work, or to do more to educate their neighbours about crime prevention.

The government calls on all South Africans to channel the outrage we all feel over the senseless death of Major-General Maswanganyi, in order to make our society safer for all.

We are duty-bound to honour his legacy. It is time for all law-abiding citizens to join the fight. Criminals must never be allowed to dictate how we live. That is not the South Africa that Major-General Maswanganyi lived and died for.

We salute these courageous men and women, they are the pride of our nation and they have our undying support. We must, through the dedication of police members, ensure that South Africans are safe and feel safe in every corner of our society.

We salute the work of Major-General Tirhani Maswanganyi and his tireless efforts in fighting crime. We thank his family for giving him their support while performing his duties.

Phumla Williams is Acting CEO of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)